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The Mandate

History of Prayer in America's Schools

By Editorial Staff
Published April 22, 2008

by Gary Bergel


Editor’s preface: This article is of importance to Chinese students because it gives a clear picture of what is wrong with America today. It was written for the benefit of Americans, but it is also of importance to Chinese students. What would happen if all Chinese students – from the youngest grade to the graduate level – prayed for our country each day?

- Wang Jiapu


A recent statistical analysis by David Barton graphically illustrates how America has plummeted from righteous living, prosperity and success in the last quarter century. Consider the following chart compiled from his study, America: To Pray or Not to Pray.1

As you might have already noticed on Mr. Barton’s graph, America’s moral decline rapidly accelerated following one event – the U.S. Supreme Court’s removal of prayer from America’s schools. On June 25, l962, 39 million students were forbidden to do what they and their predecessors had been doing since the founding of the U.S. – publicly calling upon the name of the Lord at the beginning of each school day.

The New York school children which prompted the Engel vs. Vitale ruling had simply prayed: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee and beg Thy blessing over us, our parents, our teachers and our nation.”

America has experienced radical decline in each of the four areas which the children’s prayer touched upon: youth, family, education, national life. Minor recovery has occurred only since 1980 when the election of President Reagan brought forth a renewed emphasis on “traditional” values.

The removal of prayer from Amerca’s public schools was a violation of the third commandment which commands us “not to take the name of the Lord in vain.” By the judicial act of forbidding invocation, the Court audaciously elevated a secularized system of education beyond the authority, reach and blessing of God Himself. Worse than taking the Lord’s sacred name in vain is treating it with contempt, denying it rightful place and stripping it from public use and even from the lips of children. Jesus’ own expressed desire, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them” was also violated by these judges, many of whom were raised in Christian homes.

The “evangelical prophet,” Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), saw that the empty promises made by so many Christians actually result in great “spiritual leakage.” He admonished his followers: “Always beware of vowing, it is a risky thing. If you promise to do a thing and don’t do it, it means the weakening of your moral nature. We are all so glib in the way we promise and don’t perform and never realize that it is sapping our moral energy.“2

Think then, what happens to a nation rife with perjury, broken marriage covenants, unforgiveness, cults with demonic covenants, extortion, bribery, libel, slander, profanity, hypocrisy, idle talk, and lawsuits initiated solely for revenge and personal gain. We are living witnesses that truly “the Lord does not hold such a nation guiltless.”

Regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, we must each, as Oswald Chambers declared, realize that “God’s laws are not watered down to suit anyone; if God did that He would cease to be God. The moral law never alters for the noblest or the weakest; it remains abidingly and eternally the same.”

1 David Barton, America: To Pray or Not to Pray, (Aledo, TX: Speciality Research Associates).
2 Oswald Chambers, The Best From All His Books, (Oliver-Nelson Books, 1987).

Gary Bergel is president of Intercessors for America. Reprinted with permission of Intercessors for America, P.O. Box 4477, Leesburg, VA 22075; (800) 872-7729.


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Your comments are welcome!

I’m thankful that Bibles and prayer was allowed in school when I was growing up, and prayer for lunch. I see the difference in the new generation and how the lack of these things play a big role in our society today.

Posted by Rose Linville on 07/23/2009 07:34 PM #

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

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Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

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A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

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Running Time: 130 minutes

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